Monday, June 23, 2014

Children's Book Review: Tani's Search for the Heart by Keith and Chenoa Egawa

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge, from the author,via Bostick Communications, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

And now for a kid's book, that will take them on a native American journey/adventure!

 Tani's Search for the Heart cover

Heartbroken over the loss of her beloved grandmother, Tani, a Native American girl of the Coast Salish people, remembers her grandmother’s parting advice to journey into the forest to search for “the heart of all things.” Not knowing if she will recognize the answers she seeks, but certain she must abide by her grandmother’s wishes, Tani embarks on a quest through the wilds of the Pacific Northwest; unexpectedly finding her way into a world of Coast Salish legend, tradition and self-discovery. Struggling with self-doubt, Tani is helped through the challenging terrain of her homeland by the wise animals of the forest, such as Bear, Otter and Salamander, the guiding spirit of her departed grandmother, and the magical Stick Indian, whose presence on the shadowy fringes once inspired fear in Tani. Through each new encounter with the animals along the way, Tani moves closer to reaching her goal and revealing the answers she has always carried within. With each step toward discovering her special place and purpose in the world, Tani’s courage grows in the face of uncertainty; awakening her unique gifts and the collective wisdom shared by her people through generations. As her journey finds her standing on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Tani comes to learn that the heart of all things can be found in the most unexpected places, from her front doorstep to the distant ocean, with very little space between the questions and the answers. 


This is a lovely book that blends Lummi and S’Klallam traditional mythology with typical moral story telling, to educate children about nature and the respect we should have for it. Like other Native American stories, it is also a tale of acceptance, learning, maturity and perseverance. Even though it is West coast tale, all children will benefit from the lessons in this book.

Miss Grace was instantly transfixed by the gorgeous illustrations:

 Tani's Search for the Heart sample 1

In color and black ink, they bring the story to life and enrich the tale (miss Grace was especially fond of the one above!). 

 Tani's Search for the Heart sample 2

The book opened up the idea of animal guides and we had quite a lively discussion on that concept! I was actually quite surprised to realize how much of the West Coast Native American mythology she had picked up from other books and movies, and that she related to while reading this book. 

This is a lovely book and perfect for bringing new adventure to Summer reading enrichment, and maybe sparking some nature trail walking, animal rescue volunteer time, or other nature themed activity with your child! We highly recommend it!

About the author and illustrator: 
Keith and Chenoa Egawa are a brother and sister writing and illustrating team of Lummi and S'Klallam Indian ancestry. Keith is a published novelist with experience in education reform and social work. His extensive work with families has provided him with both inspiration and insight into his subject matter. In addition to literary readings for adult audiences, Keith has conducted writing workshops for Native youth throughout the US. Keith lives in the city of Seattle

Chenoa has worked as a professional illustrator, international indigenous human rights advocate, actor, and is a traditional ceremonial leader, storyteller and singer (with five CDs to her credit.). . She was a fellowship recipient from the Institute of Current World Affairs, and traveled throughout Central and South America facilitating communication between indigenous peoples to protect and preserve traditions, languages, and homelands. Chenoa has also worked in the public school system to create programs that teach Native American culture and history, empowering Native youth, and inspiring a broader appreciation for the wealth of traditional knowledge from the First Peoples, to benefit all people of today’s world.. Chenoa lives on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

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